Q&A: AVMA vice president candidate sees position as an investment in profession’s future

Interview by R. Scott Nolen

Dr. Gary Marshall
Dr. Gary Marshall

Dr. Gary Marshall wants to take his passion for veterinary medicine and mentoring veterinary students on a national level. That’s why he’s running for the AVMA vice presidency.

The vice president is a voting member of the Board of Directors and the AVMA’s official liaison to the Student AVMA (SAVMA) and its student chapters.

As the sole candidate for 2024-26 AVMA vice president, Dr. Marshall will be elected to the office by the AVMA House of Delegates (HOD) when it holds elections during its regular annual session this June in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Marshall is an adjunct professor at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, a feline practitioner, and the alternate delegate for Washington state in the HOD. In an interview with AVMA News, Dr. Marshall shared a bit about his personal life as well as explained his motivation for running for the vice presidency and what he hopes to achieve during his two-year term.

The following responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Q. Why are you running as a candidate for AVMA vice president?

A. Such a great question, but not very easy to answer concisely. I’ve been a mentor to aspiring veterinarians for my entire career. This started out one at a time with employees, job-shadow individuals, or connections made at conferences. To enhance these connections, I became an adjunct professor for Washington State University to help train more veterinary students. In 2016, a friend and colleague invited me to get involved, and I began participating in organized veterinary medicine at the state and national levels. It wasn’t long before I was completely hooked on this aspect of our profession. This is when I learned that there is a position that is a perfect blend of my passions: AVMA vice president. They are a liaison among the students, faculty, and administrators of all the AVMA Council on Education–accredited veterinary schools around the world. I desire to continue giving back to this great profession. Running for AVMA vice president is the best way I can think of to use the experience and connections I have developed during my career in veterinary medicine. 

Q. What should AVMA members know about you?

A. I’m a 1989 veterinary graduate of Washington State University—Go Cougs! I’m married to a veterinary school classmate, Dr. Diane Marshall, and we have two grown children. I’ve owned two practices and still work at the feline practice I founded in 1996 on Mercer Island, Washington. We currently share our home with one spicy senior cat. Within veterinary medicine, I am a volunteer mentor for two national mentoring platforms, I serve on the Washington State VMA, and the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative board of directors. I volunteer at local access to care and One Health clinics in Seattle. I enjoy speaking at veterinary schools and conferences on a variety of topics, including feline medicine; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); business ownership; ethics; organized veterinary medicine; and mentorship. My hobbies include, but are not limited to, landscape photography, home improvement projects, curling, skiing, and hiking.

Q. What will you focus on during your time as vice president?

A. There are so many aspects of this position, and they continue to expand seemingly each year. They are all important, but my primary focus will be listening to our veterinary colleges’ students, faculty, and administrators to identify what is most important to them. Then sharing this information with AVMA leadership to determine if current member benefits meet identified needs or if we should look to develop new ones.

Q. Why is it important for the AVMA to have a liaison to the veterinary colleges and student leadership?

A. I truly believe that by expending energy and resources toward this liaison role, and intentionally and strategically giving it a seat on the AVMA Board, we are investing wisely for the future of this organization. And dare I say, also for this profession. Membership drives the AVMA. The AVMA works so hard to advance, promote, protect, and support the profession; the professionals within it; and the people and animals served by it. Without committed members, none of this would be possible. The AVMA vice president is the connection to AVMA leadership from the Student Initiatives Team, Early Career Development Committee, and the members these entities serve. Continuing to invest in this liaison roll to reach our future generations of colleagues—while crafting membership experiences that fit with the evolving needs of our profession, and the professionals it is made up of—is of utmost importance to drive enthusiastic membership into the future.

Q. How do you expect to spend the first of your two-year term in office?

A. This will certainly involve visiting as many individuals and institutions as possible. Doing this will enable my initial goals of learning. Learning primarily from the AVMA Student Initiatives team and SAVMA leadership. Learning the most efficient ways to connect with students, faculty, and administrators. The more I learn, the better I will be able to advocate for these constituents as a member of the AVMA Board of Directors.

Q. Is there anything else you want to share?

A. If I can do this, anyone can do this. Please consider volunteering at the local, state, or national level in a way that would be meaningful to you. By doing so, your participation will be meaningful to so many others.

A version of this story appears in the June 2024 print issue of JAVMA